Children’s Sabbath III: America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline

The report that is referenced in the title of this post can be found here. It is the Children’s Defense Fund report on the intersection of health, poverty and race in this country’s children. You can read what the CDF says about the report here.

If you are confident that our country is fair, or just, or a good place to grow up, or if you are confident that we are doing a good job caring for the most vulnerable among us, you should read things like this report to disabuse you of that notion. We are not any of those things. We are failing as a society to care for those who need us most. We are perpetuating racism and poverty to support the extravagant wealth of a tiny privileged minority. We are the most powerful nation in the history of the planet, and we are using our power to spread suffering at home and abroad, while neglecting those whom God calls us to care for.

We will spend 465 Billion dollars to kill people in Iraq but Bush vetoes S-CHIP funding because it is too expensive. We will apparently write blank checks for war, but when it comes to children going to the doctor, we suddenly can’t find our pocketbook. Suddenly all the “fiscal conservatives” trot out and talk about how it isn’t efficient to provide health care. They say this because their children can afford to go to the doctor. I mean, who cares if poor children can’t get health care? They’re not our kids. And its so expensive.

Economic decisions are always, always, moral decisions. When we talk about what we can afford, we are talking about what we value. We dress it up in psuedo-scientific drag, but we’re talking about what is important to us. And we have said, time and time again, that it is vitally important to kill hundreds of thousands of people thousands of miles away, but it is not important to provide care for the most vulnerable members of our own society.

The best that our children can expect is to be trotted out as a political football during election years. When it comes down to where our priorities are, I think that’s clear. We are a nation at war, and we are not a nation that cares for its own citizens.

Things like this really help me understand the Amish, or other communities which choose to disengage from our destructive culture for religious reasons. How can a system like this be redeemed? It seems like everyone who has power is entirely willing to use it for evil, and a bunch of people keep re-electing them to do it again next year.

I’m not a parent. Frankly, I’m awkward and useless around kids most of the time. Its taken a year for me to be even barely adequate in youth ministry – where I’m still awkward but not quite useless. But I get it. I get it. We’re supposed to care for children first. They are a gift from God. They are supposed to be the priority. But I have no idea how someone who is a parent can tolerate this situation. I have no freaking clue. I have no understanding of how a person looks at Iraq and says “This is a great use of our time, money and blood”, but looks at millions of children who can’t go to a doctor and says “We can’t afford to help you. Sorry. Have a nice life.”

The issue is not what we can afford. Insuring every person under 18 in American is nowhere near as expensive as killing people overseas. And yeah, its inefficient. Who cares!? What’s less efficient than destroying a couple of countries and then paying to rebuild them!? What’s less efficient than torturing and killing people and destroying their lives to “fight terrorism”, which we know is exactly what causes people to become terrorists!? Maybe flushing money down the toilet is less efficient than the War on Terror, but not by far. In fact, I’d much prefer flushing money down the toilet. At least then it isn’t actively being used in the service of evil.

See, we don’t care about efficiency. We don’t care about how much things cost – certainly this administration doesn’t. In fact, I’m not sure what we do care about. What do we care about as a country? Where your heart is, there you treasure is also, right. Looking at where our treasure is, I can hazard a guess at where our heart is. And it sickens me.

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